[ kair ]
/ kɛər /
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verb (used without object), cared, car·ing.
verb (used with object), cared, car·ing.
to feel concern about: He doesn't care what others say.
to wish; desire; like: Would you care to dance?
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Idioms about care

Origin of care

First recorded before 900; Middle English noun care “sadness, sorrow, grief,” Old English caru, cearu, cognate with Gothic kara, Old High German chara “lament”

synonym study for care

3. To take care, pains, trouble (to do something) implies watchful, conscientious effort to do something exactly right. To take care implies the performance of one particular detail: She took care to close the cover before striking the match. To take pains suggests a sustained carefulness, an effort to see that nothing is overlooked but that every small detail receives attention: to take pains with fine embroidery. To take trouble implies an effort that requires a considerable amount of activity and exertion: to take the trouble to make suitable arrangements.

usage note for care

13. Couldn't care less, a phrase used to express indifference, is sometimes heard as could care less, which ought to mean the opposite but is intended to be synonymous with the former phrase. Both versions are common mainly in informal speech.


carer, nounnon·car·ing, adjectiveo·ver·care, nounun·car·ing, adjective

Other definitions for care (2 of 2)


or Care

[ kair ]
/ kɛər /

a private organization for the collection of funds, goods, etc., for distribution to people in foreign countries who need aid.

Origin of CARE

First recorded in 1945–50; shortening of C(ooperative for) A(merican) R(elief) E(verywhere)
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What is a basic definition of care?

Care means to devote thought to something and consider it important enough to be worthy of concern. Care also means an attention to detail or the supervision and protection of something. Care has several other senses as a noun and a verb.

If you care about something, then you think it is worthy of your time and it is of concern to you. Most parents care what happens to their children, for example, and will protect and help them.

  • Real-life examples: Animal lovers care about the safety and treatment of pets. Most citizens care where their tax money goes. The point of giving a person a present is to show that you care about them.
  • Used in a sentence: I always watch the news because I care deeply about what is happening in the world. 

This sense of care is often used in the negative to mean to think something is unimportant or is unworthy of a person’s attention or concern.

  • Used in a sentence: I really don’t care if you throw out that old couch. 

As a noun, care refers to caution or an attention to detail, usually when you are trying to not make a mistake or miss something. The adjective careful, meaning cautious, comes from this sense of care. The adjective careless means someone is not using care at all.

  • Real-life examples: Surgeons use great care when they slowly and methodically perform surgeries. Drivers should use care when navigating snow and ice on the road. Masters of a craft devote great care to their work and create amazing things.
  • Used in a sentence: The house was falling down because the carpenters didn’t devote much care when they built it. 

Care is also used to refer to a situation in which someone or something is under the protection and supervision of someone. A patient who is in a doctor’s care, for example, is being watched and tended to by their doctor. The idiom take care of is related to this sense of care. The term healthcare also comes from this sense.

  • Real-life examples: Baby bears are under their mother’s care until they can protect themselves. Plants need proper care from gardeners if they are to grow successfully. Most people keep their money in the care of a bank or accountant.
  • Used in a sentence: The children were in the teacher’s care during the field trip. 

Where does care come from?

The first records of care come from before the 900s. It comes from the Old English noun caru and verb carian. It is related to the Old High German chara, meaning “lament.”

Did you know … ?

What are some other forms related to care?

  • carer (noun)
  • caring (adjective, noun, present tense verb)
  • uncaring (adjective)
  • noncaring (adjective)
  • overcare (noun)

What are some synonyms for care?

What are some words that share a root or word element with care

What are some words that often get used in discussing care?

How is care used in real life?

Care is a very common word that people use to express whether they do or don’t consider something worth thinking about or being concerned with.

Try using care!

True or False?

If you care about your house, you don’t think about it very much and aren’t concerned about what happens to it.


What are other ways to say care?

The noun care refers to a state of mind in which one is troubled or anxious about something. How does care compare to concern and worry? Learn more on Thesaurus.com.

How to use care in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for care (1 of 2)

/ (kɛə) /


Word Origin for care

Old English cearu (n), cearian (vb), of Germanic origin; compare Old High German chara lament, Latin garrīre to gossip

British Dictionary definitions for care (2 of 2)

/ (kɛə) /

n acronym for
Cooperative for American Relief Everywhere, Inc.; a federation of US charities, giving financial and technical assistance to many regions of the world
communicated authenticity, regard, empathy: the three qualities believed to be essential in the therapist practising client-centred therapy
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Other Idioms and Phrases with care


The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.